Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday asked scientists to invent new varieties of rice compatible with the climate change and varied seasons.
“We have to produce rice that will harmonise with the seasonal changes and adjust the changing climate,” she said during a speech at International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) at its 50th anniversary at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.
The premier said the agriculture sector would directly be affected due to the adverse impact of the climate change.
As an impact of the climate change, Hasina noted that the sea level would rise and a huge land mass of the country likely to be submerged, raising the level of salinity.
Hasina said emphasise should be put on the invention of high-yield verities that could adapt to the hostile climate.
“You have to invent new varieties of crops that should adapt with this situation so that the production of rice must not come down,” Hasina directed the scientists.
Hasina said one of the main components of the high yielding variety of rice is water for irrigation. “But you know, it has been taken into consideration greatly as the use of underground water increased alarmingly,” she said.
She urged the scientists to devise new verities of paddy that would require comparatively less quantum of water for its irrigation.
“We will give special facilities and incentives so that the scientists can concentrate on their research works,” she assured the scientists.
Hasina said the country's agriculture sector has been turned into commercial agriculture from subsistence agriculture.
“These days the agriculture does no longer depend on climate. Implementation of the modern agriculture began in the country. Our agriculture products are now being exported to many countries around the world. Our processed agricultural products are entering into the world markets.”
She said during the Boro season the government provided electricity to the rural areas for better irrigation, keeping the urban areas in darkness, and that resulted in a bumper Boro production this year.
“For this our government had to listen to bad words from different quarters as we diverted electricity from Dhaka city to rural areas.”
The PM said to ensure the food security the production of rice has to be increased. She said to feed the 18 crore people in 2015, the rice production has to be increased by one ton in each hector while the present production capacity per hector is 2.8 metric tons, which is lower than many countries.
Hasina said the Awami League government all the time worked for development of the agriculture and farmers. “As we believe that without the development of agriculture it is not possible to develop the country.”
She said during her previous rule, her government for the first time in the country's history became self-reliant in food in 1999-2000 and the country won the Ceres Award.
The PM said the government is committed to ensuring food for all and as per the election pledge the government would achieve self-reliance in food production by 2013. “That's why we gave highest importance to the development of the agriculture sector.”
The PM said to increase the agricultural production, the government put special attention on its modernisation, technology invention, and provide special facilities for agricultural research works.
She also said her government increased subsidy on fertiliser, seed, pesticide and irrigation. “We have also made bank loan easier for farmers.”
Hasina said the government after assuming the office reduced the prices of non-urea fertilisers twice and as a result the price of fertiliser, which was Tk 90 per kg now sells at Tk 22 per kg.
Later, the premier inaugurated a rice fair in order to exhibit different varieties of rice.
Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) in collaboration with IRRI has so far developed 51 new varieties and four hybrid varieties of rice.
BRRI with the assistance from IRRI has also developed a saline-tolerant and two submergence-tolerant varieties.
The Ministry of Agriculture and IRRI jointly organised the function.
Agriculture Secretary CQK Mustak Ahmed chaired the function while Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, Food and Disaster Management Minister Dr Abdur Razzak attended the function as special guests, and IRRI Director General Dr Robert S Zeigler as guest of honour.